|Edith Wharton - from Wikipedia|
The young man, as he followed his wife into the hall, was conscious of a curious reversal of mood. There was something about the luxury of the Welland house and the density of the Welland atmosphere, so charged with minute observances and exactions, that always stole into his system like a narcotic. The heavy carpets, the watchful servants, the perpetually reminding tick of disciplined clocks, the perpetually renewed stack of cards and invitations on the hall table, the whole chain of tyrannical trifles binding one hour to the next, and each member of the household to all the others, made any less systematised and affluent existence seem unreal and precarious.
Edith Wharton - The Age of Innocence
The novel portrays upper-class New York society in the 1870s. Here, the main character Newland Archer enters the home of his wealthy in-laws. I particularly like this phrase - the whole chain of tyrannical trifles binding one hour to the next.
Working life can be like that, an endless series of futile exactions, particularly in the public sector.